Roger Joseph Zelazny (13 May 1937 – 14 June 1995) was an American writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels. He won the Nebula award three times, with 14 nominations, and the Hugo award six times, also with 14 nominations, including two Hugos for novels: the serialized novel ...And Call Me Conrad (1965; subsequently published under the title This Immortal, 1966) and the novel Lord of Light (1967).
- At the end of the season of sorrows comes the time of rejoicing. Spring, like a well-oiled clock, noiselessly indicates this time.
- First lines of Zelazny's first published short story, Passion Play (1962)
- Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant — you just don't know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you'd mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.
Trust your demon.
- Introduction to Passion Play (1962)
- Two days like icebergs—bleak, blank, half-melting, all frigid, mainly out of sight, and definitely a threat to peace of mind—drifted by and were good to put behind.
- The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth (1965)
- Yeah, the mythology is kind of a pattern. I'm very taken by mythology. I read it at a very early age and kept on reading it. Before I discovered science fiction I was reading mythology. And from that I got interested in comparative religion and folklore and related subjects. And when I began writing, it was just a fertile area I could use in my stories.
I was saying at the convention in Melbourne that after a time I got typed as a writer of mythological science fiction, and at a convention I'd go to I'd invariably wind up on a panel with the title "Mythology and Science Fiction". I felt a little badly about this, I was getting considered as exclusively that sort of writer. So I intentionally tried to break away from it with things like Doorways in the Sand and those detective stories which came out in the book My Name Is Legion, and other things where I tried to keep the science more central.
But I do find the mythological things are creeping in. I worked out a book which I thought was just straight science fiction -- with everything pretty much explained, and suddenly I got an idea which I thought was kind of neat for working in a mythological angle. I'm really struggling with myself. It would probably be a better book if I include it, but on the other hand I don't always like to keep reverting to it. I think what I'm going to do is vary my output, do some straight science fiction and some straight fantasy that doesn't involve mythology, and composites.
- I see myself as a novelist, period. I mean, the material I work with is what is classified as science fiction and fantasy, and I really don't think about these things when I'm writing. I'm just thinking about telling a story and developing my characters.
- "A Conversation With Roger Zelazny" (8 April 1978), talking with Terry Dowling and Keith Curtis in Science Fiction Vol. 1, #2 (June 1978)
- All of these things considered, it is not surprising that one can detect echoes, correspondences and even an eternal return or two within the work of a single author. The passage of time does bring changes, yea and alas; but still, I would recognize myself anywhere.
- In the introduction for the short-story collection Unicorn Variations (1983)
- A bizarrerie of fires, cunabulum of light, it moved with a deft, almost dainty deliberation, phasing into and out of existence like a storm-shot piece of evening; or perhaps the darkness between the flares was more akin to its truest nature — swirl of black ashes assembled in prancing cadence to the lowing note of desert wind down the arroyo behind buildings as empty yet filled as the pages of unread books or stillnesses between the notes of a song.
- Unicorn Variation (1982)
- "It is no shame to lose to me, mortal. Even among mythical creatures there are very few who can give a unicorn a good game."
"I am pleased that you were not wholly bored," Martin said. "Now will you tell me what you were talking about concerning the destruction of my species?"
"Oh, that," Tlingel replied.
- Unicorn Variation (1982)
- Death is the only god that comes when you call.
- 24 Views of Mt. Fuji, by Hokusai (1985) - Review of 24 views, with images
- Every now and then it's nice to stop and just look over what you've been writing and the way you've been writing it and sort of reassess it, and see if you've fallen into bad habits or there's something you'd like to get better at. One way of reexamining your own work is to work with somebody else. It's a learning experience. I don't want to get into a rut.
- As quoted in "Forever Amber" (October 1991)
- I got the idea for that story in May of 1979. I didn't know what it was going to be; I just thought it would be neat to write something about Jack the Ripper's dog, and ask Gahan Wilson to illustrate it, partly because of the fact that a dog is such an unusual person. No matter who owns a dog, if that person is nice to the animal, the dog is going to love him. I thought at the time, if you take a really despicable person, a serial killer or someone like that, and tell a story from his dog's point of view it would make him look pretty good.
- Oh, I don't know — that's a hell of a question — I don't tend to look at my stuff that way. I just look at it a book at a time. Something like the Amber books are in a different class. I try not to anticipate. I don't know what I'll be writing a few years from now. I have some ideas — I have lots of different things I want to try. I almost don't really care what history thinks. I like the way I'm being treated right now.
- On how he would like to be remembered (1994)
He Who Shapes (1965)
- The novella He Who Shapes (1965) was subsequently expanded into the novel The Dream Master (1966)
- "I sank Atlantis," he said, "personally. It was about three years ago. And God! it was lovely! It was all ivory towers and golden minarets and silver balconies. There were bridges of opal, and crimson pennants and a milk-white river flowing between lemon-colored banks. There were jade steeples, and trees as old as the world tickling the bellies of clouds, and ships in the great sea-harbor of Xanadu, as delicately constructed as musical instruments, all swaying with the tides. The twelve princes of the realm held court in the dozen-pillared Coliseum of the Zodiac, to listen to a Greek tenor sax play at sunset."
- You don’t know what it’s like to be cut off from a whole area of stimuli! To know that a Mongoloid idiot can experience something you can never know — and that he cannot appreciate it because, like you, he was condemned before birth in a court of biological happenstance, in a place where there is no justice — only fortuity, pure and simple.
- The fact remains that you would be dealing, and dealing constantly, with the abnormal. The power of a neurosis is unimaginable to ninety-nine point et cetera percent of the population, because we can never adequately judge the intensity of our own — let alone those of others, when we only see them from the outside. That is why no neuroparticipant will ever undertake to treat a fullblown psychotic. The few pioneers in that area are all themselves in therapy today. It would be like driving into a maelstrom. If the therapist loses the upper hand in an intense session he becomes the Shaped rather than the Shaper. The synapses respond like a fission reaction when nervous impulses are artificially augmented. The transference effect is almost instantaneous.
- The power to hurt... has evolved in a direct relationship to technological advancement.
- Between the black of yesterday and the white of tomorrow is the great gray of today, filled with nostalgia and fear of the future.
- He flowed. Away from all the rooms of the world. Away from the stifling lack of intensity, from the day’s hundred spoon-fed welfares, from the killing pace of forced amusements that hacked at the Hydra, leisure; away.
And as he fled down the run he felt a strong desire to look back over his shoulder, as though to see whether the world he had left behind and above had set one fearsome embodiment of itself, like a shadow, to trail along after him, hunt him down, and to drag hem back to a warm and well-it coffin in the sky, there to be laid to rest with a spike of aluminum driven through his will and a garland of alternating currents smothering his spirit.
- “Beware,” she recited a personal beatitude, “those who hunger and thirst after justice, for we will be satisfied.”
“And beware the meek,” she continued, “for we shall attempt to inherit the Earth.”
This Immortal (1965)
- First published abridged in two parts as ...And Call Me Conrad in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in October and November 1965; later published in book form as This Immortal in 1966. There are no chapters in this book. All page numbers here are from the hardcover edition published in the Garland Library of Science Fiction by Ace Books
- I've always been impulsive. My thinking is usually pretty good, but I always seem to do it after I do my talking—by which time I've generally destroyed all basis for further conversation.
- pp. 9-10
- I wasn’t disappointed, inasmuch as I expected nothing.
- p. 29
- The absence of a monument can, in its own way, be something of a monument also.
- p. 60
- Be warned, therefore, that one does not go to hell to light a cigarette.
- p. 83
- “Nothing we did in those days has caused a change.”
“Because of what we did, things remained as they were, rather than getting worse,” I told him.
- p. 131
- My mind spun for a second before it drifted, and in that second I knew that of all pleasures—a drink of cold water when you are thirsty, liquor when you are not, sex, a cigarette after many days without one—there is none of them can compare with sleep. Sleep is best....
- p. 169
Creatures of Light and Darkness (1969)
- The chapters in the book are not numbered; they are numbered here for ease of reference. All page numbers are from the mass market edition published by Avon, 13th printing ISBN 0-380-01122-0
- “Some worlds have too much life,“ he says. “Life—crawling, pullulating, fecundating, smothering itself—worlds too clement, too full of the sciences which keep men alive—worlds which would drown themselves in their own semen, worlds which would pack all of their lands with crowds of big-bellied women—and so go down to death beneath the weight of their own fruitfulness. Then there are worlds which are bleak and barren and bitter, worlds which grind life like grain. Even with body modifications and with world-change machines, there are only a few hundred worlds which may be inhabited by the six intelligent races. Life is badly needed in the worst of these. It can be a deadly blessing on the best. When I say that life is needed or not needed in certain places, I am of course also saying that death is needed or not needed. I am not speaking of two different things, but of the same thing. Osiris and I are bookkeepers. We credit and we debit. We raise waves, or we cause waves to sink back again into the ocean. Can life be counted upon to limit itself? No. It is the mindless striving of two to become infinity. Can death be counted on to limit itself? Never. It is the equally mindless effort of zero to encompass infinity.”
- Chapter 1, “Prelude in the House of the Dead” (p. 24)
- “It is difficult to understand. It seems brutal, it seems harsh…”
“It is life and it is death. It is the greatest blessing and the greatest curse in the universe. You do not have to understand it, Wakim. Your comprehension or your lack of it, your approval or your disapproval, will in no way alter its operation.”
- Chapter 1, “Prelude in the House of the Dead” (p. 25)
- Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.
- Chapter 3, “Death, Life, the Magician and Roses” (p. 40)
- This day she’ll off across the sky on her own wild ways to show.…
There, in the worlds of the Life and the Death, the worlds that she used to know.
Now, some say her name is Mercy and others say it’s Lust. Her secret name is Isis. Her secret soul is dust.
- Chapter 6, “The Changing of the Tide” (p. 63)
- Oh, cynical monger of indulgences! ’Twould take a man of the cloth to work a scheme like that!
- Chapter 15, “Marachek” (p. 106)
- “Silence, Set!” cries Anubis. “Don’t listen to him, Madrak. He sees your weakness, as he sees the weaknesses of all things he encounters. He seeks to draw you onto a battlefield of another sort, one where you struggle against yourself, to be beaten by the guilt he has contrived for you. Ignore him!”
- Chapter 39, “Ship of Fools” (p. 177)
Isle of the Dead (1969)
- All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Ace Books ISBN 0-441-37470-0
- Nominated for the 1970 Nebula Award
- This added the element of mystery that made the comparison inevitable: life is a thing that reminds me quite a bit of the beaches around Tokyo Bay. Anything goes. Strange and unique things are being washed up all the time. I’m one of them and so are you. We spend some time on the beach, maybe side by side, and then that slopping, smelling, chilly thing rakes it with the liquid fingers of a crumbling hand and some of the things are gone again.
- Chapter 1 (p. 6)
- Then I could turn around and justify that, by saying that it isn’t really paranoia if there really are people out to get you.
- Chapter 1 (p. 22)
- Symbols, by their very nature, conceal as well as indicate, damn them!
- Chapter 1 (p. 29)
- I watched the spinning stars, grateful, sad and proud, as only a man who has outlived his destiny and realizes he might yet forge himself another, can be.
- Chapter 1 (pp. 29-30)
- At one time, tips were given only for things you logically would want to have done efficiently and promptly, and they served to supplement a lower payscale for certain classes of employment. This was understood, accepted. It was tourism, back in the century of my birth, cluing in the underdeveloped countries to the fact that all tourists are marks, that set the precedent, which then spread to all countries, even back to the tourists’ own, of the benefits which might be gained by those who wear uniforms and render the undesired and the unrequested with a smile. This is the army that conquered the world. After their quiet revolution in the twentieth century, we all became tourists the minute we set foot outside our front doors, second-class citizens, to be ruthlessly exploited by the smiling legions who had taken over, slyly, completely.
- Chapter 2 (p. 45)
- “Everything that’s miserable in the world,” Nick the dwarf once said to me, “is because of beauty.”
“Not truth or goodness?” I’d asked.
“Oh, they help. But beauty is the culprit, the real principle of evil.”
“Money is beautiful.”
- Chapter 2 (p. 56)
- Nick swore he’d die with this boots on, on some exotic safari, but he found his Kilimanjaro in a hospital on Earth, where they’d cured everything that was bothering him, except for the galloping pneumonia he’d picked up in the hospital. That had been, roughly, two hundred and fifty years ago. I’d been a pallbearer.
- Chapter 2 (pp. 58-59)
- The dead are too much with us.
- Chapter 2 (p. 59)
- Earth grates on my nerves. It gives me a big pain these days. That’s why I live out here. Earth is overcrowded, bureaucratic, unhealthy, and suffering from too many mass-psychoses to bother classifying.
- Chapter 3 (p. 61)
- There comes a time in the history of all bureaucracies when they must inevitably parody their own functions.
- Chapter 3 (p. 62)
- I was born on the planet Earth, into the middle of the twentieth century, that period in the history of the race when man succeeded in casting off many of the inhibitions and taboos laid upon him by tradition, reveled for a brief time, and then discovered that it didn’t make a bloody bit of difference that he had. He was still just as dead when he died, and he was still faced with every life-death problem that had confronted him before, compounded by the fact that Malthus was right.
- Chapter 4 (p. 72)
- The stars blazed like the love of God, cold and distant.
- Chapter 4 (p. 87)
- Of all the things a man may do, sleep probably contributes most to keeping him sane. It puts brackets about each day. If you do something foolish or painful today, you get irritated if somebody mentions it, today. If it happened yesterday, though, you can nod or chuckle, as the case may be. You’ve crossed through nothingness or dream to another island in Time.
- Chapter 5 (p. 101)
- Dwelling beside a body of water is tonic for the weary psyche. Sea smells, sea birds, seawrack, sands—alternately cool, warm, moist and dry—a taste of brine and the presence of the rocking, slopping bluegraygreen spit-flecked waters, has the effect of rinsing the emotions, bathing the outlook, bleaching the conscience.
- Chapter 5 (pp. 119-120)
- “May the blind things at the bottom of the great sea, whose bellies are circles of light,” he said, “recall with pleasure the flavor of your marrow.”
- Chapter (p. 125)
- For me, I have seen worlds and people begin and end, actually and metaphorically, and it will always be the same. It’s always fire and water.
No matter what your scientific background, emotionally you’re an alchemist. You live in a world of liquids, solids, gases and heat-transfer effects that accompany their changes of state. These are the things you perceive, the things you feel. Whatever you know about their true natures is rafted on top of that. So, when it comes to the day-to-day sensations of living, from mixing a cup of coffee to flying a kite, you treat with the four ideal elements of the old philosophers: earth, air, fire, water.
Let’s face it, air isn’t very glamorous, no matter how you look at it. I mean, I’d hate to be without it, but it’s invisible and so long as it behaves itself it can be taken for granted and pretty much ignored. Earth? The trouble with earth is that it endures. Solid objects tend to persist with a monotonous regularity.
Not so fire and water, however. They’re formless, colorful, and they’re always doing something. While suggesting you repent, prophets very seldom predict the wrath of the gods in terms of landslides and hurricanes. No. Floods and fires are what you get for the rottenness of your ways. Primitive man was really on his way when he learned to kindle the one and had enough of the other nearby to put it out. It is coincidence that we’ve filled hells with fires and oceans with monsters? I don’t think so. Both principles are mobile, which is generally a sign of life. Both are mysterious and possess the power to hurt or kill. It is no wonder that intelligent creatures the universe over have reacted to them in a similar fashion. It is the alchemical response.
- Chapter 6 (pp. 137-138)
- I’d lived far too long, and with every day that passed the odds kept growing against my lasting much longer. Although they didn’t put it quite that way when giving the sales pitch, my insurance company’s attitude is reflected in the size of the premiums involved.
- Chapter 7 (pp. 147-148)
- I was cruising along on Tokyo Bay, and suddenly this was the answer, looming, the heaped remains of everything that goes down and does not come again to shore, life’s giant kitchen-midden, the rubbish heap that remains after all things pass, the place that stands in testament to the futility of all ideals and intentions, good or bad, the rock that smashes values, there, signalizing the ultimate uselessness of life itself, which must one day be broken upon it, not to rise, no, never, not ever, again.
- Chapter 7 (p. 154)
- “Could Yarl the Omnipotent create a stone so heavy he couldn’t lift it?” Green Green asked him.
”No,” said Courtcour.
”He would not.”
”That is no answer.”
”Yes, it is. Think about it. Would you?”
- Chapter 7 (p. 157)
- Even if they had been real gods, what did it matter? What was it to me? Here I was still, right where I was born a thousand or so years before, in the middle of the human condition—namely, rubbish and pain. If the gods were real, their only relationship with us was to use us to play their games. Screw them all.
- Chapter 8 (p. 174)
- I had wanted to go after her, to explain my part in what had happened. But I knew it would do no good, so why lose face? When a fairy tale blows up and the dream dust settles and you find yourself standing there, knowing that the last line will never be written, why not omit any exercises in futility?
- Chapter 8 (p. 187)
Jack of Shadows (1971)
- All page numbers are from the first mass market edition published by Signet, first printing, August 1972
- “Then it is impossible to get an honest answer from you.”
“If by ‘honest answer’ you mean for me to say what you want me to say, whether or not it is true, then I would say that you are correct.”
- Chapter 1 (p. 11)
- He doubted that his petition would be heard, however, since he did not feel that the gods would devote much attention to anything emitted from this particular portion of the world.
- Chapter 2 (p. 16)
- Toward the bright stars, from the dark ground, he hurled another petition, for whatever it was worth.
- Chapter 2 (p. 19)
- There’s no need for your pretty lies now. It makes no difference to an old woman the things a young girl believed.
- Chapter 3 (p. 32)
- “From the shape of a cloud I know that a man in a distant city will quarrel with his wife three seasons hence and a murderer will be hanged before I finish speaking. From the falling of a stone I know the number of maidens being seduced and the movements of icebergs on the other side of the world. From the texture of the wind I know where next the lightning will fall. So long have I watched and so much am I part of all things, that nothing is hidden from me.”
“You know where I go?”
“And what I would do there?”
“I know that, too.”
“Then tell me if you know, will I succeed in that which I desire?”
“You will succeed in that which you are about, but by then it may not be what you desire.”
“I do not understand you, Morningstar.”
“I know that, too. But that is the way it is with all oracles, Jack. When that which is foreseen comes to pass, the inquirer is no longer the same person he was when he posed the question. It is impossible to make a man understand what he will become with the passage of time; and it is only a future self to whom a prophecy is truly relevant.”
- Chapter 6 (p. 62)
- So do not speak to me of souls when you have never seen one, man.
- Chapter 6 (p. 63)
- “You were both correct,” said Morningstar. “It is the same thing that you both describe, although neither of you sees it as it really is. Each of you colors reality in keeping with your means of controlling it. For if it is uncontrollable, you fear it. Sometimes then, you color it incomprehensible. In your case, a machine; in theirs, a demon.”
- Chapter 6 (p. 63)
- I have noted, too, that when it comes to matters of security the laws are considerably relaxed.
- Chapter 8 (p. 85)
- “Mercy, I have learned, is a thing that is withheld from one whenever he most needs it,” he said. “Yet when he is in a position to grant it himself, those who withheld it previously cry out for it.”
- Chapter 9 (p. 99)
- Is not love itself a form of a spell, where one is loved and the other loves, and the one who loves is compelled to do the other’s bidding? Of course. It is the same thing.
- Chapter 11 (p. 118)
Today We Choose Faces (1973)
- All page numbers are from the first mass market edition published by Signet, fourth printing ISBN 0-451-15488-6
- Life is seldom so pivotally crisis-conditioned a thing as novelists would have us believe. While it is true that we sometimes recover from shocks with a sense of the freshness of reality and the wonder of existence, this state of mind does pass away—and fairly rapidly, at that—leaving both reality and ourselves untransfigured once more.
- Part 1 (p. 14)
- Anyone who rushes toward an unknown peril simply to satisfy a desire for excitement is a fool.
- Part 2, Chapter 3 (p. 78)
- He was one of those scientist-artists who comes along every few centuries to justify the existence of that overworked word “genius.”
- Part 2, Chapter 6 (p. 108)
- There are circumstances under which the anomalous should be courted. Ignorance is one of them.
- Part 2, Chapter 7 (p. 123)
- I had no doubts as to the correctness of my own beliefs, that human nature could be altered, that man could be forced to evolve morally.
- Part 2, Chapter 9 (p. 147)
Home is the Hangman (1975)
- On the water, aboard the Proteus, the crowding, the activities, the tempo, of life in the cities, on the land, are muted, slowed—fictionalized—by the metaphysical distancing a few meters of water can provide. We alter the landscape with great facility, but the ocean has always seemed unchanged, and I suppose by extension we are infected with some feelings of timelessness whenever we set out upon her.
- I decided that the devil finds work for idle hands and thanked him for his suggestion.
- “Cute,” she said, smiling. “If the liberal arts do nothing else they provide engaging metaphors for the thinking they displace.”
- Times have changed since the Good Book was written, and you can’t hold with a purely Fundamentalist approach in complex times.
- I had troubles of my own, and even the most heartening of philosophical vistas is no match for, say, a toothache, if it happens to be your own.
- The function of criticism should not be confused with the function of reform.
- All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by Del Rey ISBN 0-345-25388-4, fourth printing (July 1983)
- The chapters in the book are not numbered; instead, the first chapter is labeled "Two" and the second chapter "One", with subsequent chapters continuing to alternate between "Two" and "One". They are numbered here for ease of reference.
- “And you, I take it, are Red Dorakeen?”
“That is correct. Anything I can do for you?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. You can die.”
- Chapter 12 (p. 72)
- After signing it, he added the postscript: By the time you read this, you will already be dead.
- Chapter 27 (p. 162)
- “...And I have seen stranger things in a long and colorful career.”
“Exactly. So what is the problem in believing my story?”
“You’ve nothing to back it up with. Even if you’re right, I’m still right in not believing without evidence.”
- Chapter 28 (p. 172)
A Night in the Lonesome October (1993)
- Nominated for the 1994 Nebula Award
- The chapters in this book are designated by the days of October
- All page numbers here are from the mass market edition published by AvoNova
- “Why do you tell me this?”
“Perhaps because I am a cat and it amuses me to be arbitrary and do you a good turn.”
- October 2 (p. 9)
- Never trust a cat, anyway. All they’re good for is stringing tennis racquets.
- October 6 (p. 28)
- I thought about the Elder Gods and wondered at how they might change things if the way were opened for their return. The world could be a good place or a nasty place without supernatural intervention; we had worked out our own way of doing things, defined our own goods and evils. Some gods were great for individual ideals to be aimed at, rather than actual ends to be sought, here and now. As for the Elders, I could see no profit in intercourse with those who transcend utterly. I like to keep all such things in abstract, Platonic realms and not have to concern myself with physical presences.
- October 21 (pp. 138-139)
- It is a city of neat cottages and cobbled streets where wander cats without number, for the enlightened legislators of long ago laid down laws for our protection. A good, kind village, where travelers take their ease and pet the cats, making much of them, which is as it should be.
- October 22 (p. 160)
- “When you talk about being an ‘anticipator,’ of having a pretty good idea of when something’s going to happen—or how, or who will be there—isn’t that a kind of divination?”
“No. I think it’s more a kind of subconscious knack for dealing with statistics, against a fairly well-known field of actions.”
- October 23 (p. 173)
Phlogiston interview (1995)
- An Interview with Roger Zelazny a few months before his death, by Alex Heatley in Phlogiston Forty Four (1995)
- Well, I decided that as a teenager that I really didn't know enough to describe character well and I was wasting my time. I'd learned as much as I could about story telling techniques and it wasn't a matter of technique any more. It was a matter of substance. As a result I said I was going to wait until I was a lot older and had more experience. So it was that after I got out of college I'd been away from SF for about four years. I'd read SF steadily from when I was eleven until I started college. When I started college I said, "I'm not going to read that while I'm here, I'm going to learn poetry and other things of that sort" in fact I wrote a lot of poetry then.
- I'd had a long talk with Bob Silverberg, who was very influential on my early career. He'd, out of the kindness of his heart, at a convention told me that he thought I'd made several mistakes in the way I was disposing of my stories. And I said, "I don't understand what you mean, but I'll be glad to buy you a few drinks, if you'll tell me about it". So we adjourned to the bar and sat there a couple of hours. He was drinking Bloody Marys back then; I was drinking Black Russians. And he told me all sorts of things which carried me over the next several years; it was a lot of information for a couple of drinks. He told me that the first thing I should do if I wanted to write full-time was to get a really good agent. He said that after a while the business end of writing takes too much of the writing time. Better to pay someone ten percent and find that you're still more than ten percent ahead in the end.
Which is true. My present agent says that he always feels that a good agent during the course of a year should earn back for his client at least the ten percent he takes by way of commission, so the client's really nothing out. And what he should ideally do is make him more money than the ten percent.
- I try to write every day. I used to try to write four times a day, minimum of three sentences each time. It doesn't sound like much but it's kinda like the hare and the tortoise. If you try that several times a day you're going to do more than three sentences, one of them is going to catch on. You're going to say "Oh boy!" and then you just write. You fill up the page and the next page. But you have a certain minimum so that at the end of the day, you can say "Hey I wrote four times today, three sentences, a dozen sentences. Each sentence is maybe twenty word long. That's 240 words which is a page of copy, so at least I didn't goof off completely today. I got a page for my efforts and tomorrow it might be easier because I've moved as far as I have".
- When I started writing my first novel, ...And Call Me Conrad, they always say: "Write about what you know" and I said "Well, if I get a nice sort of combination SF and Fantasy with these resonances from Greek Mythology it might be pretty good. It would also give me a chance to start filling in my background on all those things I don't know much about but should if I want to be an SF writer."
So I sat down and made a list of everything I felt I should know more about. Astrophysics, oceanography, marine biology, genetics... Then when I'd finished the list I read one book in each of these areas. When I'd finished I went back and read a second book until I'd read ten books in each area. I thought that it wouldn't turn me into a terrific, fantastic expert but I'd at least have enough material there to know if I was saying something wrong. And I'd also know where to turn to get the information I want to make it right.
While I was doing this, to keep the words and cheques flowing I wrote books involving mythology. And once I started picking up things involving astrophysics I'd write stories that played with those sorts of things. So that's why I started out with mythology.
- My favorite form is the short story. From an aesthetics stand point you really have to pare down to the bone. You can't write a throw-away scene.
Quotes about Zelazny
- Listed alphabetically by author
- The work ... abounds in literary, historical and mythological allusions. The sensitivities revealed are far-ranging, capable of fine psychological and sociological analysis, and are as responsive to the contemporary as to the traditional... There is no other writer who, dealing with the struggle between life and death on such a fantastically rarefied level can evoke so much hunger for the stuff of living itself.
- Samuel R. Delany, talking about Zelazny in his book "The Jewel-hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction" (1977)
- His stories are sunk to the knees in maturity and wisdom, in bravura writing that breaks rules most writers only suspect exist. His concepts are fresh, his attacks bold, his resolutions generally trenchant. Thus leading us inexorably to the conclusion that Roger Zelazny is the reincarnation of Geoffrey Chaucer.
- Zelazny, telling of gods and wizards, uses magical words as if he himself were a wizard. He reaches into the subconscious and invokes archetypes to make the hair rise on the back of your neck. Yet these archetypes are transmuted into a science fictional world that is as believable — and as awe-inspiring — as the world you now live in.
- Philip José Farmer, in a promotional blurb for The Last Defender of Camelot (1980) by Roger Zelazny
- Roger Zelazny died as I completed the first chapter of The Wake and his memorial informed the second chapter.
- For absent friends — Kathy Acker and Roger Zelazny, and all points between.
- Zelazny likes to develop different systems of magic, but his emphasis is on systems. He feels the magic should be worked out and contain no contradictions. It should run more like science and not be too supernatural in which anything goes. That route leads to magic being a crutch to move the plot along. He also likes to use the mystery plot. He feels that there is an elegance to having a puzzle overlaid on a fantasy or SF novel. The mystery helps build the mythic elements in fantasy, but is also akin to the process of discovery in science.
- He was a poet, first, last, always. His words sang.
He was a storyteller without peer. He created worlds as colorful and exotic and memorable as any our genre has ever seen.
- Sadly, at least two wonderful "untold tales" of the Sleeper were lost when Roger Zelazny passed away. I know that Roger had always intended to bring back Croyd's boyhood friend Joey Sarzanno, and tell the story of the crystallized woman that Croyd kept in his closet. But he never had the chance, and now he never will. Croyd will continue to be a part of Wild Cards — Roger deliberately crafted the character so he would be easy for the other writers to use, and always delighted in seeing what we did with him — but it would take an unusual amount of hubris for any of us to attempt to write either of those two stories, and it is not something I would encourage. They were Roger's stories. No one else could do 'em justice.
- He always seemed to come at a subject through a perspective slightly askew, as if he viewed reality through a glass lightly.